November 14, 2013

Aronoff to lead Division of Infectious Diseases

David Aronoff, M.D., has been named the new director of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases.

David Aronoff, M.D., has been named to direct the Division of Infectious Diseases. (photo by John Russell)

David Aronoff, M.D., has been named the new director of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases.

Aronoff comes to Vanderbilt from the University of Michigan Health System, where he was an associate professor within the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine. He was also a faculty member in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and a member of the executive committee of the University of Michigan Reproductive Sciences Program.

“David is a star in the field of infectious diseases,” said Nancy Brown, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine. “He has natural leadership instincts. We are fortunate to have recruited him back to Vanderbilt.”

Aronoff completed his internal medicine residency, which included a year as chief resident, as well as his Infectious Diseases clinical fellowship and a research fellowship in Clinical Pharmacology at Vanderbilt.

“I am very fortunate. I feel like I already understand what the Vandy culture is all about,” Aronoff said. “It’s a very nurturing and highly collaborative environment, which had a major impact on my decision to accept this post. Not to mention that this division is one of the top in the country.”
But the attributes of the division were not the only reasons the physician-scientist was eager to return.

“Vanderbilt put me in a position to eventually become a leader,” he said. “For me, being here is really giving back to the institution that opened a lot of doors for me. I feel a deep sense of gratitude and it feels great to be back.”

Over the past few years, Aronoff has become engaged in the mission of training future health care providers and investigators, providing world-class patient care and striving to be at the forefront of research. He is looking forward to continuing to build on this directive with a team that has already created a solid foundation.

“My overarching goal is to make sure the division is leading the way in all three of the academic medicine branches — teaching, patient care and discovery,” he said.

“More specifically, I have a keen interest in maintaining the strength in areas where the division is clearly leading the way, including HIV care and research, tuberculosis research, global health, infection control and hospital epidemiology and infectious disease pathogenesis.

“Vanderbilt is full of opportunities for collaboration. I am very excited about the possibility of growing new programs and building bridges across campus.”

Aronoff is also interested in finding new ways to engage the community in the activities of the work being done in his division. He says it is important that the community-at-large becomes more aware of the clinical problems that clinicians and researchers are working to address at Vanderbilt.

“We are leading the way in the fight against poverty-related disease,” he said. “Worldwide, we are confronted with the challenge of having infections that we don’t have medications to treat because of antibiotic resistance. Infectious diseases are a huge source of illness and death that unfortunately affect poor communities more than affluent ones.”

As he takes over the helm of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Aronoff plans to continue his research in reproductive immunology, with a focus on infections that complicate pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes.

He wants to develop avenues for Maternal Fetal Medicine, Pediatrics, Neonatology, Pediatric Infectious Diseases and his own division to work together to address challenges in maternal and child health as well as develop new technologies for studying human disease.

Aronoff is energized by the remarkable advances in medicine, technology and research, which brings many highs and lows, he said. Despite that, he calls himself an optimist.

“The best baseball players in the world get into the Hall of Fame if they can reach first base three times out of every 10 times that they come to the plate,” he said. “Whether they strike out or fly out, the best players shake it off and the next time at the plate it’s a fresh start.

“I feel the same way about what we do,” he said. “The more we are willing to take risks and the more we are willing to fail, the more likely it is that we will meet success.”

Aronoff, a summa cum laude graduate of Indiana University, received his degree in Microbiology, an education that included one year overseas at the University of Kent in England. This was followed by his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine.